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Nantucket’s Tight-knit and Supportive Community


Around The Office

J. Brent Tartamella
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Nantucket, a pretty awesome place right?  COVID 19, an unprecedented event in modern history – many have asked how this is affecting the island.  There has been a lot written lately, and a lot of serious news to take in on a minute by minute basis. I’m not a total news junky but, as this situation continues to unfold,  I think I am beginning to find my balance.  Working under quarantine and finding a place to do so took a few days. I am trying to stay informed yet not get sucked in for 8 hours a day — there is truth that for some people that type of information dive affects the psyche in a negative way.  So, let me touch base on what a lot of you, not the world, but the Nantucket lovers of the world want to know – what’s going on out there?

First and foremost, we are coming together as a community, neighbors helping neighbors – no fancy slogans, just people doing good in an unprecedented time.  A lot of what is happening here is also hopefully happening in your cities and towns too. If not, let’s see how we can send some “Nantucket” your way. 

Like the rest of Massachusetts, we are all staying home, but not yet in a shelter in place type of situation. Our biggest concern a week ago was how do we keep the virus from coming to Nantucket.  As of March 18th, we don’t have any reported cases. There are great concerns that our hospital isn’t able to handle a global pandemic. We are 30 miles out to sea and have to protect one another, look out for our neighbors and in this case our first responders. 

Nantucket Cottage Hospital has:

  • 2 ventilators
  • 10 beds
  • 12 island doctors
  • 40 consulting specialists
  • 60 registered nurses
  • 250 total employees


Let that sink in, we have an amazing community hospital but we are taking social distancing seriously and staying home. If you are interested, the hospital has been amazing conducting daily updates from President Gary Shaw and team.  You can listen to them from the links on the NCH Facebook page.

Also tied into great daily communication is Roberto Santamaria, Nantucket’s Health Director.  He is working with NCTV18 to produce daily updates as well.  Communication is so critical during these time and I so appreciate both Boston Mayor, Marty Walsh and Governor Charlie Bakers comments on don’t listen to your friend’s friend, who has a friend that works in XYZ hospital or government agency that has a friend in the office of XYZ to get your news. Listen to bona fide credible sources and only share facts, not your own thoughts. 

Now is probably a good point to express my incredible gratitude to the First Responders and all Fire, Police, Health Care, Armed Services and “Essential Employees” who are on the front lines to help take care of the Nation.  They too have families, parents and loved ones, and their stress is real.  We are doing our best to not put them in harm’s way.  These are not just front line employees, on this island, they are our neighbors, friends, family members, all real people that we know and need.

In terms of island gratitude lets give a few positive shoutouts.  How about the local egg supplier who reminded everyone that the chickens lay eggs everyday….no need to hoard, he transitioned to a 1 dozen a day limit. Love that.

On a more serious and critical-to-daily-life amazing move was the swift decisive action of a local hero.  I hope the town will somehow recognize Patrick Ridge and the team at Island Kitchen. Patrick, Vanessa, and Jenna all said IF something happens, we are here for you Nantucket.  The economic and social disparity challenges of Nantucket aren’t spoken about nearly enough. Close to 40% of school children rely on subsidized meals.  No school could have meant no meals for these children.  The IK team wasn’t going to let that happen and are providing breakfast and lunch to local school children on a daily basis. I hope you will never forget this action and always support our friends at Island Kitchen. 

Of course our island hospitality will suffer a severe hardship.  Not novel to Nantucket, but for those businesses that are open year-round, they need your support. If you know you’ll spend a couple of hundred dollars and restaurant “A” and restaurant “B”, call them today, and purchase a gift certificate.  That will help them to pay staff now and give them a better chance of being here when you are. 

  • Nantucket Community is a wonderful new resource created by local resident Taylor Jones to be a consolidated page of latest news and events all related to real-time actions happening now, today about our new reality on island.
  • Lots of Facebook pages have been created about Nantucket and for those lovers of this sandspit check them all out. During trying times though, there is one that rises above them all.  Local professional photographer, Bill Hoenk created the Nantucket Gratitude Page.  Check it our and be reminded why we are grateful to live where we do.
  • In a place that has a tendency to be very isolating, especially in times of mandatory isolation! Grant Sanders has created an amazing page that really defines what Nantucket is all about. Community.  Check out the newly created Nantucket Neighbor webpage that utilizes slack to match those who need some assistance with those that can give a little assistance.  “The goal of this site is to connect able-bodied people with those who need help in order to make sure the hospital and the police are not overburdened. We can pick up groceries or meals. We can deliver firewood. We can walk your dog. We can check on someone you care about. We will not put our volunteers in harm’s way by exposing them to someone who may be sick, but there are many things we can do.”


Thank you to these visionaries that are making us a stronger community. 

As of March 17th here is a little update from the town:

  • Nantucket Town and County offices are closed to the public until Monday, March 30, 2020.
  • Nantucket Police and Fire Department facilities are closed to the public but providing full services.
  • All schools are closed until Monday April 6, 2020 per order of the Governor.
  • Steamship and Hy-line ferry services continue to operate on normal schedules.


Please Note: Town Officials have been in contact with leadership from the Steamship Authority, Hy-line Cruises and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency to request limitations on passenger service to the island. The Town’s request is being taken into consideration. The Town of Nantucket does not own these ferry services nor the docks that service them therefore the Town cannot limit or alter service. The alteration or limitation of service must either be voluntary by the ferry service operators; or, through the issuance of a federal or state Declaration. Transportation over waters of Nantucket Sound is exclusively regulated by the state and federal governments. Additionally, jurisdiction of the United States is exclusive meaning that there is no authority for a local jurisdiction such as the Town to restrict the ability of individuals or cargo from accessing the Island by ferry or airplane. We have been made aware of a situation in Maine where a very small island (population 355) shut down ferry service to non-residents–the circumstances that allowed for that are not in place for Nantucket.

  • Nantucket Memorial Airport remains open however the number of passengers has been low.
  • Public events are cancelled or postponed per the Governor’s emergency order of Friday, March 13 which effectively cancelled all events over 250 persons and subsequently his emergency order of Sunday, March 15, 2020 to limit gatherings to under 25 persons. As a result: The Town is not accepting applications for NEW events until after July 1,2020. The Town asks organizers of events cancelled due this Executive
  • Nantucket’s Incident Response Team meets daily at the Emergency Operations Center at the Public Safety Facility to monitor and process new information, issue updates, address personnel and other issues and the like.
  • Our Community Members, Visitors and Potential Visitors are urged to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control with respect to social distancing, sanitizing, travel and the other measures needed to “flatten” the contagion–all of these guidelines may be found through the Town website.

Now I just need to figure out how to adjust to two professionals working from home with three kids on lockdown… any ideas? I will trade you my blog for your blog! Actually thanks to my smart partner in crime, she has already designated 9am the time when our 5 mile walks for our crew will occur. We are up and at ‘em with chores, creativity hour, physical play, painting, house projects and reading. I’m the lone wolf suggesting some academic programs, but it hasn’t been received with an overwhelming positive reception! 

I’ll update you later in the week with how it’s all going and in the meantime send your questions to me at and I will be sure to share the latest that is happening on our shores 30 miles out to sea. Be well and be physically distant, we will be in this for awhile so lets celebrate the good that is happening all around us. 

Written By

J. Brent Tartamella

A New England native, with roots and a career in hospitality and private club management, Brent moved to Nantucket in 2004.